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Kargil: The Wider Ramifications

By Shailendra Aima

Shailendra AimaThe wider conflict in Kargil seems to be over with the withdrawal of Pakistan troops and the mercenaries backed by it. The political observers as well as the strategic analysts have heaved a sigh of relief at the averting of a full-fledged military conflict between India and Pakistan, with a possible nuclear fall out in South Asia. There is a talk, now, of conflict resolution on bilateral basis in the spirit of the Simla Agreement. An opinion seems to be gaining ground that the support to the militants from across the border must stop forthwith. Another premise which is getting projected simultaneously is that LoC be converted into International Border, that the long standing promise of autonomy of Kashmiris be fulfilled and that movement of Kashmiris from the Indian to Pakistani side, and vice versa, be liberalised.

It seems that the entire solution, in this case, hinges on the assumption that the bone of contention between India and Pakistan is Kashmir and once there is a resolution of the Kashmir problem, the hostilities between the neighbours will cease and that peace shall prevail in the sub-continent, giving both India and Pakistan the opportunities to utilise their resources on development and economic growth.

An analysis of the claims and counter-claims of both India and Pakistan in the matter shows the Pakistani belief that a logical conclusion of the two nation theory (the basis for Pakistanís creation) should have been accession of the state of Jammu and Kashmir to Pakistan; it being a Muslim majority state. The Pakistanis also demand that Kashmiris be given the right of self-determination, as proposed by no less a person than Pt. Jawahar Lal Nehru. The Pakistanis also say that the denial of the right of self-determination amounts to suppression of the people of Kashmir and therefore it shall continue to support popular movements against India in Kashmir.

The argument put forth by the Indians is that the state of Jammu and Kashmir legally and constitutionally acceded to India when it was facing an aggression by the  Pakistani regulars and its sponsored tribesmen. That plebiscite became impossible when Pakistan refused to vacate one third of Kashmirís territory and that the people of Kashmir put their stamp of approval on accession by electing a popular government, by participating in elections from time to time and by the Resolutions of their Constituent Assembly. The Indians also argue that India is a secular state and the fact that India has a much larger Muslim population than the entire Pakistan, negates the two nation theory. For India, therefore, Pakistan is the product of a two-nation theory which it refutes and debunks; and for Pakistan, Kashmir is a logical corollary and continuation of the process of the two nation theory.

In addition to these claims and counter-claims, there is a need to understand the nature of conflict between India and Pakistan. Creation of Bangladesh was a serious physical as well as an ideological setback to Pakistan. Ever since then, it renewed its attempts to annex Kashmir and to weaken the multiethnic, multilingual and secular fabric of the Indian polity. This would serve to avenge Bangladesh as well as to weaken the ideological basis of the Indian nation state. Pakistan after the 1971 experience started banking more on subversive, diplomatic and political machinations to achieve this end. As a consequence India is face to face with a proxy-war not only in Jammu and Kashmir, but through a strong network of ISI operatives, is being pounded in entire north-east and as far south as Tamil Nadu. The reverberations of Punjab are still producing tremors, not to speak of what is happening in Bombay, Coimbatore, Chennai, Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh.

As a diplomatic and strategic initiative, Pakistan provided a no-hold, free landing to the Americans for intervention in Afghanistan and diverted its spill-over to Kashmir. A low-cost involvement for Pakistan has developed into a festering sore for the Indian body politic and is demanding a heavy price. A pan-Islamic Jihad serves the imperialist as well as religio-civilisational imperatives of Pakistan and provides it an ideological basis for existence. Emboldened by these ventures, Pakistan visualizes itself as the eastern arm of the Afro-Arab Islamic fraternity with a well defined agenda of expansion in India and further eastward. The Himalayas and the Himalayan hinterland are crucial to its strategic and global interests. An so is its nuclear and missile programme.

What happened in Kargil, therefore, is neither an isolated event nor any kind of a misadventure by Pakistan. The only difference this time is that India chose to confront it with its full might and the Pakistanis were made to vacate this side of the LoC. As the reports suggest, the Pakistanis during this period have succeeded in infiltrating about 1600 hard-core Islamic mercenaries into Kashmir who have renewed their attacks on the security establishments in J&K as well as selective minority killings. While the proxy-war stands upgraded, Pakistan is also renewing its peace offensive. It is expressing itself to talk to India for a final solution of the Kashmir problem and also regrets Indiaís putting preconditions for such talks. India on the other hand, struck up with a mid-term poll, finds its political leadership divided and the entire opposition demanding its pound of flesh. India moves into elections with prospects of a bloodier terrorists offensive. All claims of normalcy in Kashmir stand falsified, today.

Pakistan has relentlessly pursued its agenda over the last two decades. It has achieved a decisive depth within the Indian system through subtle ISI operations. It has succeeded in creating a situation for India where India is engaged in self-containing exercises a situation for India where India is engaged in self-containing exercises at the cost of its own sovereignty.

"India shall not cross the LoC even in the wake of grave provocation" reveals the state of Indian mind, where LoC is sacrosanct, granting autonomy to J&K is pious, toeing the American initiatives is a compulsion but where National sovereignty and integrity are matters of compromise.

Peace in the present circumstances is impossible. India may decide on quantum of autonomy to J&K state, but that bears no relation to the Pakistani offensive; as it would neither prevent its agents from ethnic-cleansing of the minorities nor shall the militarised pan-Islamic groups relent in their pursuit of Jihad. On the contrary, if the Indian state persists with its misplaced priorities of package and concessions for the so-called "misled youth", and refuses to acknowledge the war or the proxy-war or the war-like situation (whatever nomenclature it likes to give) and keeps on harping on non-issues like "autonomy", the days shall no be far away when autonomy for LTTE in Tamil Nadu, Baabar Khalsa in Punjab, Nexalities in Andhra, ULFA in Assam and other militant outfits in Bihar, Nagaland and Tripura shall become inevitable.

The time has come to get out of this mind-set, call a spade a spade and demonstrate the eye for an eye approach while dealing with the aggressor. In Kashmir, it is the national sovereignty which is under attack. Either we lose to Pakistani design and disintegrate or we preserve ourselves and defeat the enemy.

Source: Kashmir Sentinel

Pakistan's Role

Kargil 1999



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